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Caring for Airmen & families through Deployed Family Dinner

a man makes a speech

Col. John Schutte, 19th Airlift Wing commander, speaks with family members of deployed Airmen during a Deployed Family Dinner at Little Rock Air Force Base, Arkansas, Dec. 10, 2019. The dinner gave families of deployed personnel a chance to meet with other families who are sharing in similar experiences, build friendships, and develop support networks. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Mariam K. Springs)

children sing

Children sing Christmas carols during a Deployed Family Dinner at Little Rock Air Force Base, Arkansas, Dec. 10, 2019. Families enjoyed food, arts and crafts, and photos with Santa. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Mariam K. Springs)

a woman reads a book to children

Kimberly Euton, Airman and Family Readiness Center community readiness specialist, reads a Christmas book to children during a Deployed Family Dinner at Little Rock Air Force Base, Arkansas, Dec. 10, 2019. This was the first time the Airmen and Family Readiness Center hosted the event to better align families with of deployed Airmen with helping agencies and to remind them they have a second family ready to help. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Mariam K. Springs)

children coloring

Children color in photos during the Deployed Family Dinner at Little Rock Air Force Base, Arkansas, Dec. 10, 2019. This was the first time the Airmen and Family Readiness Center hosted the event to better align families with of deployed Airmen with helping agencies and to remind them they have a second family ready to help. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Mariam K. Springs)

LITTLE ROCK AIR FORCE BASE, Ark. --

The Airmen and Family Readiness Center hosted a Deployed Family Dinner Dec. 10, 2019, for Team Little Rock families with loved ones currently deployed.

This was the first time the A&FRC hosted the event to better align families of deployed Airmen with helping agencies and to remind them they have a second family ready to help.

“A Deployed Family Dinner is an opportunity for spouses and families to get together while a member is deployed,” said Sharon Thompson, A&FRC flight chief. “They have a chance to network and socialize with each other as well as connect with resources and leadership. It’s a reminder that whether their sponsor is deployed or not -- they are still a vital part of Team Little Rock and everything we do.”

The A&FRC and other helping agencies provide many support programs to aid families that are separated by deployments. Spouses also have a first-hand opportunity to talk with squadron leadership in a relaxed setting.

“It’s important for all families to know what resources are available to them every day – but especially when a member is deployed,” Thompson said. “Their leadership is always available to them as well as on-base resources such as the A&FRC, chapel, medical group, family advocacy, school liaison officer, and more. If someone has a question and they have no idea who to call, start with the A&FRC. If we don’t know the answer, we’ll research it and call you back with the information you need.”

Events like the Deployed Family Dinner contribute to fostering a strong base and local community, responsive to Airmen and families’ needs.

“We ask a lot of our Airmen,” Thompson said. “When you take care of what’s most important to them they know you value them. It allows them to focus on their job and the mission. Being part of a team that’s about excellence as well as service before self while still being involved in their own family ensures success for them as well.”

It’s important to care and celebrate Airmen and their families throughout the lifecycle of a member’s tour through all the sacrifices they make to accomplish the mission.

“I want to thank all the families for your sacrifice,” said Col. John Schutte, 19th Airlift Wing commander. “It’s not lost on me that your military member is serving our nation. He or she could not be doing that without the love and support you provide at home.”

The dinner gave families of deployed personnel a chance to meet with other families who are sharing in similar experiences, build friendships, and develop support networks.

“If you aren’t taking care of what’s most important to Airmen, you’re missing an opportunity to positively impact the mission as well as how that member feels about the military,” Thompson said. “The military lifestyle is a choice – more times than not, it’s a decision a family makes.”

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